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NEWS: Ethan Hawke opposes St. Lawrence offshore drilling plans

Ethan Hawke

Ethan Hawke

The Canadian Press reports, “A Hollywood heavyweight – actor/ writer Ethan Hawke – who routinely seeks refuge from the limelight on Canada’s East Coast (he has a home in Nova Scotia) is calling on the country’s energy industry to abandon its plans to drill for oil in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. …That wilderness, Hawke said, is now under threat from plans to begin offshore oil drilling in the gulf, an expanse of some 236,000 square kilometres that spans five provinces. …Hawke says last year’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico offers a terrifying glimpse of what could happen if offshore exploration is allowed to move forward.”

“Quite apart from marring the scenic landscape, Hawke said the provinces bounding the gulf would suffer untold economic and cultural hardships if oil contamination damaged the fisheries that sustain employment in the area. Even exploratory drilling in the St. Lawrence could disturb the fragile ecosystem, Hawke said, noting that the Gulf of Mexico was suffering well before last year’s offshore BP disaster, which saw nearly 4.9 million barrels of crude spew into the ocean over three months.”

“The prospect of drilling in the area has grown closer to reality in recent years. Halifax-based Corridor Resources Inc. has announced plans to drill a single exploratory well at the Old Harry prospect near the Iles-de-la-Madeleine, which falls under the purview of Newfoundland and Labrador. While Quebec currently has a province-wide moratorium on offshore drilling, no such measures exist in Newfoundland. The province’s offshore regulator said the Old Harry project is subject to careful scrutiny and will not proceed without a thorough assessment of all environmental concerns. A spokesman for the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board said Old Harry is currently being evaluated in two environmental assessments — one commissioned by Corridor, the other a public consultation led by former New Brunswick ombudsman Bernard Richard.”

Corridor Resources has completed seismic work in the area and in February filed a proposal with the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board to drill an exploration well at some point between mid-2012 and early 2014.

The Council of Canadians
On March 28, 2011, Council of Canadians vice-chairperson Leo Broderick wrote the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board expressing our concern that Corridor Resources could be granted a permit to drill a deep water exploration well in the Laurentian Trench, north of the Magdalene Islands, and that only a screening level of environmental assessment is being planned. Broderick wrote, “The Council of Canadians is requesting that you stop this project. We ask that you declare a moratorium on oil drilling inside the Gulf. And we also ask that you initiate a strategic environmental assessment with a full panel review and a regional public consultation process (i.e. public consultation meetings in all affected provinces).” More on Leo Broderick’s letter can be read at

Additionally, on November 17, 2010, the Council of Canadians joined the call from Save Our Seas and Shores, Attention Fragile (Magdalen Islands), Sierra Club Atlantic, and the Ecology Action Centre, for a moratorium on oil and gas development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

And on April 7, 2011, “Atlantic Council of Canadians chapter delegates, at a meeting the past weekend in Tatamagouche, united in concern with the proposed drilling in the ‘Old Harry’ area of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The clear lack of public consultation and information void around the proposed drilling has created more questions than answers.”